Seaside shop couple retiring after more than 40 years
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Shopkeepers Gary and Wendy Allen have been serving generations of people on their summer holidays, but have never been able to take one themselves.
Now they are stepping into retirement and looking forward to enjoying a whole host of trips after more than 40 years helping others to make the most of theirs.
Mr Allen opened his first gift shop in Regent Road in 1977 and was soon joined by wife Wendy, then a legal secretary.
The couple ran Verity's in two units, where the Troll Cart's pub garden now stands, before going in with his parents and buying Vogue in 1985.
Then the home of Maclaren handbags, they stocked it with their successful range of souvenirs and gifts keeping the shop's name and its distinctive blue canopies which have been replaced over the years.
On Sunday (November 21) they are turning the key in the lock for the last time.
Mr Allen said it had been a pleasure to serve the town, with Vogue being a place of pilgrimage for many on their annual break.
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"It really is the most wonderful shop," Mr Allen said.
"It certainly has the best position and has always been busy."
Things had changed since the 1980s when the theatres were full and they struggled to close even at 10.30pm - but trade was still brisk and had given them a good living.
"Working together all these years has been brilliant. We enjoy everything that we do," he added.
"It's only that now we have grandchildren we want to do other things.
"The pleasure of finding stock and putting it on the shelves and seeing the same holiday makers come back year after year has been wonderful.
"We cater for everyone and I cannot imagine there would be a holiday maker coming to Yarmouth that has not come in."
He said the lockdown had given them "a taste for retirement" and that the last couple of years had been "really good."
Mrs Allen said she was sad to be bowing out and had had lots of lovely messages from people passing on their best wishes.
The shop is being taken over by new operators in January.
"They are so lucky," Mr Allen said. "For someone to come in here and take it over at its peak, I envy them. They have it all to come."
'Full of characters'
Mr Allen said Regent Road, the main tourism thoroughfare linking the seafront and town centre, was "the best road" and "full of characters."
Over the years many businesses had come and gone with Vogue and Martyn's Walk Round Store among the last of the old guard.
At one time Vogue was know for its value school wear, selling uniform cheaper than the main supplier in Plattens before the supermarkets started adding it to their lines.
Today it is home to an eclectic mix of items from baby wear, flip-flops and nautical novelties, to tea-towels, Betty Boop figurines, bags and fridge magnets.
The whole ethos was that everything bought at the shop was taken home as a gift, Mr Allen said.
He said he wanted to issue a special thank you to local people for their support.
"There are some lovely people in the town and it has been a pleasure to serve them," he added.